Mosque

A mosque (/mɒsk/; from Arabic: مَسْجِد, romanized: masjid, pronounced [mǝsdʒid]; literally "place of ritual prostration"), also called masjid, is a place of worship for Muslims.[1][2] Any act of worship that follows the Islamic rules of prayer can be said to create a mosque, whether or not it takes place in a special building.[2] Informal and open-air places of worship are called musalla, while mosques used for communal prayer on Friday are known as jumaʿ.[1] Mosque buildings typically contain an ornamental niche (mihrab) set into the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca (qiblah),[1] ablution facilities and minarets from which calls to prayer are issued.[1][2] The pulpit (minbar), from which the Friday (jumu'ah) sermon (khutba) is delivered, was in earlier times characteristic of the central city mosque, but has since become common in smaller mosques.[3][1] Mosques typically have segregated spaces for men and women.[1] This basic pattern of organization has assumed different forms depending on the region, period and denomination.[2]

Mosques commonly serve as locations for prayer, Ramadan vigils, funeral services, marriage and business agreements, alms collection and distribution, as well as homeless shelters.[1][3] Historically, mosques were served as a community center, a court of law, and a religious school. In modern times, they have also preserved their role as places of religious instruction and debate.[1][3] Special importance is accorded to the Great Mosque of Mecca (centre of the hajj), the Prophet's Mosque in Medina (burial place of Muhammad) and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (believed to be the site of Muhammad's ascent to heaven).[1]

With the spread of Islam, mosques multiplied across the Islamic world. Sometimes churches and temples were converted into mosques, which influenced Islamic architectural styles.[3] While most pre-modern mosques were funded by charitable endowments.[1] Increasing government regulation of large mosques has been countered by a rise of privately funded mosques, many of which serve as bases for different Islamic revivalist currents and social activism.[3] Mosques have played a number of political roles. The rates of mosque attendance vary widely depending on the region.